West Norfolk 10 – Wymondham 20

West Norfolk welcomed fellow Norfolk side Wymondham to Gatehouse Lane on Saturday, in a fixture that has been very closely contested in recent years. Wymondham went in as slight favourites, given their positive start to the season and multiple player signings over the summer.

West started with a front row of Nunn, Chapman and Newton-Walters, with Tim Bateman would start at scrum half and Morgan Smith welcomed back into the side on the wing. With the weather making for poor playing conditions, both teams shared early possession and stayed relatively conservative in their style. Tim Bateman controlled West’s forwards confidently, whilst the backs adapted to the conditions, keeping the ball close wherever possible. An unforced error by West gifted Wymondham a penalty, which would be the only score in the first quarter, with West’s Sam Landles, George Lemon and Lewis Stewart keeping the defensive door shut.

Despite some excellent, patient play by West, the hosts were unable to take their chances and it wasn’t long before Wymondham took advantage of a missed tackle to score a simple try and extend their lead to 10 points. A nasty-looking injury to a Wymondham player saw play stopped for several minutes, allowing West to compose themselves and come back out to immediately put pressure on Wymondham. This phase of play then ultimately saw Captain Jack Wicks coolly slot over a penalty for West just before the half time whistle.

West knew that they needed to start confidently to get themselves back into the game, however, an error at the restart immediately gave Wymondham attacking momentum and 10 phases later, the visitors ran in an easily converted try right under the posts. A combination of handling errors and torrid weather conditions again thwarted West’s efforts to get into the visitor’s territory, keeping West in their half for long periods. Despite the errors, West’s set pieces operated much more successfully than in previous weeks, with the scrum holding firm and the lineout operating well under the guidance of JJ Hart. Wymondham kicked a penalty to add to West’s woes, however, West then started to play with more positivity and flair, with strong carries coming from Chapman, Williamson and Landles.

A yellow card to centre George Lemon did not deter West, who continued to fight for a score. Eventually, the improvement in West’s set piece would pay off – a fantastic catch and drive in the middle of the lineout set up a driving maul which was eventually brought down cynically by Wymondham near the line, with the referee awarding a penalty try as a result. With weather conditions worsening, West was unable to capitalize on the swing in momentum and Wymondham would cling on to a three-point victory, but with West taking away a losing bonus point.

Adrian Flux Man of the Match was Tim Bateman (sponsored by The Sparkle Oven Cleaning Company.)

Head coach Darren Clarke commented afterwards: “This was another game in which we were competitive but eventually came up short. On a difficult day weather-wise, it was important to minimise mistakes; unfortunately we made too many crucial ones and were punished by a good Wymondham side as a consequence.”

“However, there were positives to take from the game. Our set piece is steadily improving and the penalty try was testament to the hard work we are putting in. We finished strongly after going 20-3 down and never gave up. We will continue to learn from our mistakes and as we reduce individual and team errors, we will see results improve”.

Next week West travel to 2nd placed Bury St Edmunds 2nds. A huge thank you also goes out to Mark Shinn who kindly donated a Leicester Tigers shirt which was raffled off raising £135 towards the Club’s future developments.